The State Bank of India on Thursday filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court confirming that it has disclosed all details relating to the electoral bonds scheme – including the unique alphanumeric numbers and serial numbers of the bonds – to the Election Commission.

The alphanumeric and serial numbers of electoral bonds can be used to match donations made using the financial instruments to the parties that received them.

On March 18, the top court ordered the public sector bank to submit all details related to the scheme to the poll body by 5 pm on Thursday. A bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud said that the State Bank of India cannot be selective in disclosing information about electoral bonds.

The court’s February 15 verdict had mandated the State Bank of India to disclose “all details” including the bonds’ dates of purchase or redemption, names of their purchasers or recipients and their denomination, Live Law reported.

In the bank’s affidavit filed on Thursday, Dinesh Kumar Khara, the bank’s chairman, said that the data finally disclosed to the poll panel includes the names of the purchasers of the bonds, the names of the parties that have encashed the bonds, the last four digits of the bank account numbers of the political parties, the denominations of the bonds and the unique identifying numbers of the bonds that have been encashed.

The bank clarified that the complete bank account numbers and know-your-customer, or KYC, details of the parties were not made public as this “may compromise the security of the account [cybersecurity]”.

“Similarly, the KYC details of purchasers have also not been made public for ‘security reasons’ apart from the fact that such information was not fed or collated in the system,” read the affidavit. “However, they are not necessary for identifying the political parties.”

Electoral bonds were monetary instruments that citizens or corporate groups could buy from the State Bank of India and give to a political party, which could then redeem them for money.

The entire process was anonymous to the public since buyers were not required to declare their purchase of these interest-free bonds and political parties did not need to show the source of the money. However, the Centre could access information about these donors as it controls the State Bank of India.

The electoral bonds scheme was introduced by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Union government in 2018.

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In its February 15 verdict, the Supreme Court had said that electoral bonds could lead to quid pro quo arrangements between donors and political parties and struck down the scheme as unconstitutional.

The court had directed the State Bank of India to issue details of the political parties that received electoral bonds from April 12, 2019, and submit them to the Election Commission by March 6.

On March 4, the public sector bank had sought an extension till June 30 from the court to provide the information to the Election Commission.

The Supreme Court on March 11 dismissed the bank’s plea and directed it to disclose the details of the electoral bonds to the Election Commission by March 12.

The State Bank of India met the deadline and furnished the names of the buyers of the electoral bonds, with the date of purchase and denomination of the bond to the Election Commission. The details also included the names of the political parties who have redeemed the bonds, along with the date and denomination, but did not have any mechanism to match the donors to the political parties.

A total of 22,217 electoral bonds were purchased by donors and 22,030 were redeemed by political parties between April 1, 2019, and February 15, 2024, according to the State Bank of India’s data.

Between April 1, 2019 and April 11, 2019, the bank sold 3,346 electoral bonds and 1,609 were redeemed by political parties. Between April 12, 2019, and February 15, 2024, donors bought 18,871 bonds and 20,421 were redeemed by parties.

Read more analysis on this topic by the Project Electoral Bond, a collaborative project involving Scroll, The News Minute, Newslaundry and freelance journalists.